Friday, January 21, 2011

Of Rights and Responsibilities

If you take a peek at the ever expanding blogroll to your right, you will find a link to a blog called "Comments For Dispatches From TJICistan". I found this blog via my normal, everyday blog stalking and reading a month or two ago and decided to follow his postings as he is quirky with a diverse body of interests similar to my own. You may have come across a news article about a blogger in Massachusetts who had his firearms license temporarily suspended after authoring a post in the wake of the Tucson shooting. TJIC is that guy.

Setting aside for the time being the issue of a state requiring a person to have a firearms license to possess firearms (we might get around to that, we might not), I want to discuss the issue that led to this person arousing the ire of the authorities. Simply put, it boils down to the right to free speech. 

Shortly after the Tucson shooting, TJIC posting something to the effect of "1 down, 534 to go" apparently in reference to the remaining members of Congress who were not involved in the Tucson shooting incident. The authorities in TJIC's neck of the woods seem to feel this is potentially a threat against our elected horse thieves, and they are investigating the "suitability" of TJIC to possess firearms.

There is now a string of "I am TJIC" posts circulating the blogosphere based on the ending of the movie Spartacus. I first came across this on one of the blogs in the blogroll which linked back to the apparent originator, Borepatch. The basic idea is that, if the rights of one blogger (right, left, liberal, conservative, non-blogger, etc., etc.) are violated, then the rights of all us have been violated. We stand together or hang separately. Etc. Etc. Borepatch and others do a much better job of stating their position themselves than I will do paraphrasing it, and it's not my intent to merely do a "me too" post.

While I do agree with the sentiment in principle, but I feel the need to temper my agreement with some thoughts on the concept of rights AND responsibilities. 

We as Americans talk a lot about rights. We seem to think every action, no matter how ridiculous, is a God given right. Much less frequently do we consider the responsibility that comes with those rights. For all the chest beating about "Congress shall make no law" or "shall not be infringed", there is a well developed line of legal thinking that says that there are certain limitations on those basic rights. For instance, the right to freedom of speech is limited in that you do not have a right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater when none exists or to incite a riot. In other words, we have a responsibility to exercise our rights with a certain level of care for the rights of others. 

Now, back to the issue at hand. Regardless of the limitations on free speech that exist, there is no limitation imposed on free speech for offensiveness of which I am aware. Just go to a Klan rally or a Rev. Jeremiah Wright sermon if you need clarification on that point. You do not have a right to be free from offensive speech any more than you have a right to life when you are drowning. TJIC made what I feel was intended as a joke. A poorly timed joke made in poor taste, but a joke nonetheless. He did not say "1 down, 534 to go and Congressman [fill in the blank] is next 'cause I'm comin' for ya." That would have been a threat. How is what TJIC wrote any different than the film made about George W. Bush being assassinated? Were the makers of the film investigated for a threat against the president? Not that I recall.

Despite the tastelessness of the joke, I can understand the sentiment behind it. There is a lot of pent up anger and frustration with our elected officials in this country right now especially in the wake of the midterm elections that showed very clearly that the American people are not happy with a large portion of Congress.  However, just like an individual has a responsibility to not yell fire, I think there is an individual responsibility for a person to exercise some level of wisdom and discretion in what he or she posts and when. 

I must get back to work now. In short, there, but for the grace of God, go I. It was a stupid, tasteless joke.  I've made more than a few myself including the one about dead hookers and live church no less. You are free to disagree with TJIC and even be offended by him, but you'd better be willing to defend TJIC's right to make a stupid joke whether you agree with it or not lest you find your own rights taken away. 

I am TJIC.


  1. "However, just like an individual has a responsibility to not yell fire, I think there is an individual responsibility for a person to exercise some level of wisdom and discretion in what he or she posts and when."

    Your statement quoted above is exactly what I have been thinking about the TJIC situation. I absolutely believe that we all have the right to say, print, or post our thoughts and feelings about any topic we please. However, just because we have a right to comment, doesn’t always mean that we should! Conservatives believe that everyone should be accountable for their own lives and not rely on government to provide for their every need. I think we as conservatives need to keep in mind that make a comment, even it is our right, that we may have to suffer the consequences, either right or wrong.

    I’m not saying that we should be afraid to speak up. I think that is one of the reasons that our nation has lost ground to the progressives. We just need to exercise better judgment about what we say when we do say it.

    Short answer made long… I agree and well said, sir!

  2. Blue Steel, thanks. Other thoughts come to mind that I didn't have time to commit to "paper". For instance, any right that can be taken away isn't really a right but a privilege. All too often though we give away our rights by not standing up for them or actively arguing that someone else's rights should be taken away ignoring the fact that our arguments can and will be used against when someone decides that our rights should be taken away.

  3. "I think we as conservatives need to keep in mind that make a comment, even it is our right, that we may have to suffer the consequences, either right or wrong."

    When Travis' customers announced their intention to cease doing business with him in response to this post, that was "the consequences" of intemperate speech. Regrettable, in my opinion, but a result of legitimate free choice nonetheless.

    The police showing up at his domicile to cart away the guns and ammunition that he owned legally right up until the moment that the local police chief arbitrarily and capriciously rescinded the permit which his state requires in order to exercise a Constitutionally-enumerated right? Um...not so much, with the "legitimate consequences" and the "free choice".

    Were I in his place (that is, Massachusetts) right now, my references to "rope" and other kill-the-politicians imagery would be rapidly becoming less rhetorical and metaphorical.

  4. Matt, i would agree that the sheriff's actions were arbitrary and capricious. It will be interesting to follow the legal issues as they develop as I think TJIC has at least a fair claim for violation of civil rights, abuse of authority, false arrest, unlawful seizure and violation of due process among others probably. If I were a conspiracy type, I might think TJIC's comments were intentional to force a confrontation leading to a constitutional challenge aimed at reversing the licensing requirement in MA. And there was a second shooter behind the grassy knoll too.

  5. First off, I am embarrassed that I have a typo in the quote that Matt used.

    Secondly, I read about the TJIC issue a couple of days ago and remember the dust-up about the comments made and the revocation of the blogger’s CCDW permit. I didn’t read or remember reading that the police confiscated his weapons and ammunition. Of course that is completely wrong and illegal. I would think that the blogger will certainly have a legal case that will result in a court battle over the illegal seizure of any legally owned firearms.

    Finally, the court system is our only method of recourse in our country. If I read and understand it correctly our rights are guaranteed by the 4th and 6th amendments to the constitution that we all want our government and its officials to follow. We have to stand on those beliefs and not suggest that we resort to any other means to resolve our injustices. If we don’t, our society certainly crumbles and anarchy will rule.

    I believe the blogger made a terrible joke and it was certainly made at the wrong time. We all have to remember that whatever we type and place out there for the public to read can be twisted, taken out of context and then used by anyone to promote their own agenda. We know all too well that the progressives will use anything we do or say, no matter how we intend it, to make conservatives and especially firearms owners and enthusiasts look like crazy conspiracy theorists wanting another revolution.

  6. TJIC, you are welcome. I know you've got your hands full right now, but keep us all posted on your status and needs as things develop to the extent that you can. I know your blog is still down. So, I assume you will pick a designated surrogate like Borepatch or JayG to report to the rest of us.


I am not easily offended. Please feel free to express your opinions: good, bad or indifferent. Basically, the "Golden Rule" applies. You get what you give. Treat others like trash here, and your comments will be trashed accordingly. Rudeness and vulgarity will not be tolerated.